Source Municipal

It’s Friday night and I’m finishing the wine liturgy for the Yuppies on table 13. The host, a pretentious bald man wearing expensively layered clothes, grilled me about the wine list. Asking questions designed not to gain knowledge but to showcase his knowledge of oenology, he finally settled on a bottle of Pinot Grigio. The guy’s annoying me. Maybe there’s something to that numerology thing.

“The wine’s okay,” the host says, peering at me from behind his thick framed designer glasses. “It’s a shame you don’t have Santa Margherita.”

“Yes sir,” I say, starting to wrap the neck of the bottle with a linen napkin. “I’ll ask the owner to add it to the cellar.”

“It’s the most popular brand of Pinot there is. I can’t believe you don’t have it.”

“I’ll certainly pass along your comments, sir.”

“And you didn’t bring an ice bucket for the wine,” the man says. “You know this wine needs to be served at 55 degrees.”

At that very moment the busboy arrives and places the ice bucket on the table. Without saying a word I slide the half empty bottle into it. Despite my best efforts, the shadow of a shit eating grin crosses my face. The host picks up on it.

“How about getting us some water then?” he snaps. “What kind of mineral water do you have?”

“We have Pellegrino or Panna, sir.”

“No Fiji?” the man says, interrupting me. “What about Ty Nant or Voss?”

“Sorry sir.”

“I don’t like Pellegrino. Are you sure you don’t have anything else?”

“We do have Source Municipal, sir.”

“Oh,” the man says, his ears perking up. “What’s that?”

Pause. Wait for it. Wait for it………

“Tap water, sir.”

“I beg your pardon?”

“Water from the faucet, sir,” I say with beatific sincerity. “I can bring it with ice and fresh slices of lemon.”

The man looks at me confusedly. “Are busting my chops?” he asks.

“No, sir.”

There’s a moment of silence as the host struggles what to say next, I’m not worried he’ll get upset. Anyone who wears an argyle sweater over a yellow button down and oatmeal t-shirt hasn’t got much fight in him. I’ll bet there are pennies in his loafers.

“Just get us the Panna then,” the man says.

“Very good, sir.”

“And give us plenty of time,” the man says, trying to reassert his shaky sense of authority. “We don’t want to be rushed.”

“Of course, sir.”

I head to the service fridge to get the man’s water. Around 2002 artisanal bottled water was all the rage. A few swanky restaurants even hired “water sommeliers” to help patrons pair the “right” water with their food. I think the all the water sommeliers got executed with the tea sommeliers back in 2003. Talk about stupid fads.

I return to the table with a bottle of Panna and several glasses balanced elegantly on a tray. After dispensing the overpriced H2O I rattle off the specials, get the orders, and politely hustle the table out the door in under eighty minutes. They don’t protest and leave 18%. They never had a chance.

As the table heads for the exit I wish them a nice evening. When Argyle wine guru walks past me I look down at his feet. No socks and pennies in the loafers.

I knew it.

8 thoughts on “Source Municipal”

  1. Leanne says:

    Source Municipal… priceless! Very witty, I’m impressed. You are an amazing writer, and I wish you the best.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Actually, teas can be really different. It’s really a shame that more restaurants don’t offer different tea options, but what can you do? It’s not as expensive as wine, so there’ll never be the profit in it.

  3. dave says:

    I seem to remember something about water sommeliers – possibly a skit on Saturday Night Live – where they acted all snooty to “bond” with their equally snooty customers only to go into the the kitchen to pour a wine glass full of tap water. The funny part was the customer acting like it was such a good year for that particular glass and came from some remote region of the earth.

    Similarly, I worked for a retail furniture store in college while taking a break from waiting tables and we paid for a service that delivered 5 gallon water bottles so our customers could have clean, cold water. One day, a co-worker and I went to pick up a few since we couldn’t wait for delivery. We gave our bottles to the lady and after we waited for about 20 minutes (we thought she would just be gone a couple of minutes and come back with a dolly full of replacements) we opened the door that she walked into, and there she was in a small room the size of a walk-in closet bending over our old bottles with a garden hose in one filling it up. Her eyes got really big and we just busted up laughing. The manager canceled our service that same day.

  4. Thea says:

    There’s heaps of profit in tea! It’s lightweight so few freight charges, and you can do something like a 1000% mark-up on it. I’m always a bit disappointed when there’s 10 choices of coffee and only one sad little choice of english breakfast tea.

  5. KD says:

    Man serving tables is like playing mind games with snooty customers. That guy was trying to show you up and embarrass you for his guests. What a jerk. Only insecure people need to do that. You get so many jerks, unreal how people act. LOVE your stories though

  6. Sarah C says:

    Santa Margherita? Really? Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been known to drink it myself. Definitely not a horrible bottle of wine..but the best? really?

  7. Maui says:

    “Source municipal”…I need to remember that one

  8. Cloverdad says:

    Its the same all over the world, whether its a cosy bistro or a 2 michelin-star establishment, two things just won’t change: San Pellegrino and Aqua Panna 🙂

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